The Game: This may sound awfully familiar, but you’re the lone surviving pilot of a space squadron decimated by enemy attacks. The enemy’s bow-tie-shaped fighters are closing in on you from all sides, and you must keep an eye on your own fighter’s shields, weapon temperature (overheated lasers don’t like to fire anymore), and ammo, all while trying to draw a bead on those pesky enemy ships. You’re also very much on your own – nobody’s going to show up and tell you you’re all clear, kid. (Exidy, 1979)
Memories: It didn’t just sound familiar – Exidy’s 3-D blast-o-rama Star Fire looked familiar – its TIE fighter-shaped enemies and the typestyle seen in its attract mode were straight out of Star Wars. How it escaped a legal dogfight is hard to fathom – unless it has something to do with George Lucas and 20th Century Fox not wanting to remind everyone that the only other exponent of that galaxy far, far away in 1979 was the Star Wars Holiday Special.
Seriously, though, Star Fire was an obvious game – somebody would’ve wound up doing a first-person homage to the space dogfights of Star Wars, licensed or otherwise. The result is a fun and yet frequently exasperating game.
Star Fire didn’t just escape the lawyers, either – it also escaped being licensed for home play. Cosmic Conflict for the Odyssey2 also featured suspiciously TIE-like fighters (but not the breakneck pace), and Imagic’s Star Voyager for the Atari VCS loses the TIEs but keeps the lightning-fast 3-D action. But time, coding skills and fond youthful memories have caught up with Star Fire; homebrew programmer Manuel Rotschkar captured the game’s nuances and even its movie-title-like logo in a version of Star Fire released for the VCS in 2003.